SI History

Overview map of Westerns campus that includes a portion of haggard hallInstitute & Facilities History

Huxley College's Spatial Institute (formerly the Institute for Spatial Information and Analysis) was approved by the faculty of Huxley College in 1999 with the intention of facilitating the exchange of spatial information on the Western Washington University campus and between WWU and the regional community. The Spatial Institute’s physical resources included the Huxley Map Library (now the WWU Map Collection) and Huxley’s Spatial Analysis Labs (SAL). Increasingly, the Institute is also involved with faculty and student research related to spatial analysis.

While both the Map Collection and the SAL have their own respective objectives and missions, as part of the Spatial Institute they share the common goals of serving the campus community’s needs with regard to gathering and accessing spatial information in the form of both paper and digital maps and spatial data sets. The Spatial Institute, and the Map Collection in particular, serve the broader campus and community needs in addition to those of Huxley College. The Map Collection includes over 255,000 paper maps in addition to approximately 35,000 aerial photos, 1,000 atlases, and extensive digital data. Both facilities provide computers with access to GIS and other spatial software programs and share server space storing spatial data sets (both raw data and maps). The Spatial Institute also provides GPS equipment for checkout for academic projects.

The Spatial Institute and SAL web pages provide students, faculty and the larger academic community with information regarding spatial data resources, tools and other assistance. There is also information on spatial analysis courses taught through Huxley College as well as other departments on campus.

The Spatial Institute presents a free GPS workshop open to the WWU campus community 2. Numerous GIS, Remote Sensing and Cartography courses are taught in the SAL by Huxley College.

In addition to supporting faculty and student research, the Spatial Institute also provides spatial analysis and cartographic services for the WWU campus (i.e., maintaining the WWU Campus Map, maintaining spatial databases for Facilities and Maintenance, creating maps for Parking, Accessibility, etc.) and off-campus partners on a contract basis.

Spatial Institute Historical Notes

Spatial Institute Staff

  • Gene Hoerauff served as Staff Cartographer and Lab Manager, from 1970 until his retirement in 2005
  • Shawn Boeser served as GIS Specialist from 1998 to 2000
  • Stefan Freelan was hired as GIS Specialist in 2001, began as Institute Assistant Director in 2015 (interim Institute Co-Director 2005-2010)
  • Dave Knutson was hired as Lab Manager in 2005
  • Andy Bach (Huxley faculty) served as Institute Co-Director from 2005-2010
  • Michael Medler (Huxley faculty) began as Institute Director in 2011
  • Aquila Flower (Huxley faculty) served as Interim Institute Director for the 2016-17 academic year.

Spatial Institute Computer Labs & Related Facilities

  • AH-16 The Spatial Analysis Lab ("SAL" - the main teaching computer lab) - opened in 1997 (replacing the Geography Department's Cartography Lab)
  • AH-24 Graduate Spatial Analysis lab - created in 2006
  • ES-318 The Planning Studio / computer lab - created in 2001
  • ES-341 The Tree Ring Lab - created in 2006
  • ES-430 The Landscape Ecology Lab - created in 1995

WWU Map Collection / Huxley Map Library Staff:

  • Janet Collins served as Map Librarian from 1978 until her retirement in 2008
  • Evan Thornberry served as Interim Map Librarian 2008-2010
  • Rob Lopresti took over as Interim Map Librarian in 2009, becoming the Librarian in 2011

WWU Map Collection (Huxley Map Library) Facilities:

  • Opened in Arntzen Hall in 1974 (formerly located in Old Main as part of the Geography Department)
  • Became the Huxley Map Library in 1992 (when the Geography Dept. joined Huxley College of the Environment)
  • Became part of the Institute for Spatial Information and Analysis (now the Spatial Institute) in 1999
  • In 2009 the Huxley Map Library became part of WWU's Western Libraries
  • Moved to Wilson Library building in 2011 as the Western Libraries WWU Map Collection